We know this summer will be unlike any other, and that you may be spending more time at home than usual. That’s why we put together this handy list of 101 Backyard Games & Activities your kids will love.
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Let The Games Begin…
1. Hide & Seek
This classic game is a sure-fire hit. One player covers their eyes and gives the other players 30 seconds to hide. After 30 seconds, they’re coming for you!
2. Red Light Green Light
One person is chosen to be the traffic light and they stand a good distance away from the other players with their back to them. The other players stand in a line facing It. When It calls ‘Green Light,’ the other players move towards him until he spins around, calling ‘Red Light’. If the other players move on a red light, they’re out!
3. Water Balloon Toss
Do a water balloon toss, have a water balloon fight, or do a balloon stomp! Water balloons have a way of keeping the fun going all summer long.
4. Keep It Up
Using balloons or a light bouncy ball, see how long you can keep it in the air without it touching the ground. Team members cannot touch it more than once in a row. The team gets a point for every touch.
5. Paper Airplane Cornhole
Each player creates the best paper airplane they can. Then take turns trying to land the airplane into a bucket or other target.
Draw a hopscotch game, trace each other’s bodies with chalk, trace the shadows of your favorite toys, or dip the chalk in water for a paint-like effect. There’s so much fun to be had with a simple bucket of sidewalk chalk.
7. Penguin Race
Set up two cones or markers on either side of the yard. Each racer has to place a ball (the “egg”) between their legs. See how many laps they can complete in one minute. If they drop the “egg” they have to do 5 jumping jacks!
8. ABC Run & Find
Find a comfortable spot to sit, then tell your kids to run and find… anything! Run and find something that starts with A, B, C, and beyond. Run and find something that is a triangle. Run and find something they love to play with. Run and find something they can write with. Run and find a ball. Just run and find!
9. Egg & Spoon Race
Place a small object like a marble or egg on a spoon, and set up two cones or markers on either end of the yard. Each racer has to try to get from one end to the other with out dropping it! Use objects from around the house, or use the cute and colorful Hey! Play! Wooden Egg and Spoon Race Game from Overstock.com.
One player is chosen to be the Fox, and faces away from the rest of the players. The other players sneak up gradually on the Fox and aim to touch their back before they turn around to catch them. Before the Fox can turn around, they must count to 10 under their breath or out loud as fast or slowly as they like. When the Fox turns around all the other players must ‘freeze’. If the Fox spots a player moving, or falling over, that player must return to the starting point again.
11. Kite Racing
If you have some open space in your backyard to run, then flying kites is the perfect way to spend an afternoon. We love this classic Spectrum Diamond Kitefrom Melissa & Doug.
12. Slip n’ Slide n’ Grab
Place random objects along the slip n slide. Try to grab them as you slide down! Is there anything better than a slip n’ slide on a hot summer day?
13. Frisbee Toss
This summer, hone your frisbee throwing skills. Grab a bucket or laundry basket, and try to toss the frisbee in from varying lengths across the yard.
14. Climb The Ladder
Go grab the ladder from the garage and place a bottle on the bottom rung. Fill a bucket or laundry basket up with sock balls and take turns trying to knock it down. When you knock it off one level, move it one rung higher. How many throws does it take you?
This classic game will get you through the summer. Start a family tournament! Check out this classic, super-durable set from GoSports.
16. Outdoor Scrabble
You can DIY this classic word game using cardboard and sharpies. You’ll need: A-9, B-2, C-2, D-4, E-12, F-2, G-3, H-2, I-9, J-1, K-1, L-4, M-2, N-6, O-8, P-2, Q-1, R-6, S-4, T-6, U-4, V-2, W-2, X-1, Y-2, Z-1 and Blanks-2.
17. Sprinkler Tug Of War
Put one person on either side of the sprinkler, grab a rope, and tug!
18. Three legged Race
Tie the left leg of one person to the right leg of another person and see how fast you can get across the yard!
19. Soccer Shootout
Set up two cones for your goal, and mark a ten foot distance, or any distance you choose. Dribble the ball up, and shoot! See how many you can make in a set amount of time. Get a real net to make it official, like the Costway 6’x4′ Soccer Goal on Overstock.com. It’s super lightweight and you can assemble it quickly.
Bring some bowls outside and put a piece of paper in each one indicating how many points they are worth. Mark where each player should throw from and see how many points you can get in a set amount of time.
Ask your child if they’d like to go play catch. Find an open space, and practice playing catch. Try throwing underarm, overarm, sideways, under your legs, and any other way you can think of.
Then, try throwing items besides a traditional ball. Can you spare an oval-shaped egg? What would it be like to throw and catch a wet sponge? A coin? A square pillow?
30. DIY Chutes & Ladders
All you need is some Sidewalk Chalk to create your very own game of outdoor giant Chutes & Ladders. Check it out on Pinterest.
31. Giant Dot-To-Dot
Choose a few colors of sidewalk chalk and draw an 8×8 grid of dots. The first player draws a line to connect two dots. Each player takes turns connecting two dots horizontally or vertically. When a player’s turn closes a box, they can color it in or write their initials. Continue until the board is complete, and see how wins!
32. Lawn Bowling
Set up some bottles and use any ball for a DIY version of lawn bowling, or get an official set from Overstock.comthat you can use for years to come.
Set up four large objects for your bases, and have a pitcher roll the ball to the kicker. Just like baseball, try to get around the bases. It’s a playground favorite! Need a kickball to make it really feel like you’re back on the playground in third grade? Try this Franklin Kickball from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
The Hopscotch Ring Game Set by Hey! Play!is a fun and creative twist on Hopscotch. The set comes with 10 multi-colored rings and 15 connectors that can be set up in a variety of configurations, encouraging your child to use their imagination to invent new ways to jump and play. The rings and connectors are made from durable plastic and we love the bright colors.
Players decide one person to be “it.” The “it” person must run around and jump on another player’s shadow, making them the new “it.”
40. Juggling Games
Try to juggle three balls at one time. Then, try to jog while juggling. It’s joggling! You can use any ball you have lying around the house, but if it gets serious, try these Multicolor Juggling Balls from Overstock.com.
Create a throwing line in the grass and throw the beach ball (or any ball) from there by “pushing” the ball in the form of a shot putter. Measure each throw with a tape measure and write the measurement. See who can throw the farthest!
42. Ladder Toss
Challenge your family to a game of ladder toss in the backyard. We like the Triumph Ladder Toss Setfrom Farm & Fleet because no tools are required to assemble it. It includes two tubes with transparent crossbars and six soft ball bolas (3 blue and 3 red).
Use a Sharpie to write two of each letter or number on large pieces of cardboard. Then lay all the cardboard facedown in your yard and play a giant game of Memory!
44. High Jump
Find a big tree or a clear section of wall space outside, and make sure the area is safe. Jump and reach as high as you can. Use a tape measure to record the heigh of each touch. Who can get the highest?
45. Giant Jenga
Stack up the wooden blocks and remove the one by one. Don’t let the tower fall! We like this set from Hey! Play! on Overstock.com because the pieces are large, but they aren’t so giant that they would hurt someone when they all come crashing down.
Find a large grassy area of your backyard or local park that is free of dangerous obstacles. Make a starting line and have everyone lie down sideways on it. Roll sideways until your entire body crosses the finish line. Who can do it fastest?
Croquet can be played by two or four or six players. The object of the game is to hit your ball(s) through the course of six hoops in the right sequence in each direction and finish by hitting them against the centre peg. We like the Triumph 6-Player Beginning Croquet Set from Blain’s Farm & Fleetbecause it’s durable and weather resistant.
Find a grassy area of your backyard that is safe to jump around. Market a take-off line, and have everyone jump from that spot. They should bend their knees, swing their arms, and jump for distance. Measure each jump with a tape-measurer and see who can jump the farthest!
3-Hole Washer game boards are designed with 3 holes for maximum scoring potential. You have three chances to score on this game. The Triumph 3-Hole Washer Toss also comes with six bean bags and six washers.
Play this classic game the next time you’re bored. Say “I Spy with my little eye something…” and then choose a color or clue. The other players can take turns guessing. Whoever gets it right can choose the next clue.
Use giant pieces of cardboard and paint or Sharpie to recreate the family favorite game, Bananagrams. Or, make a more durable version like the folks at Constantly Lovestruck.
60. Tic Tac Toe
Make your own giant Tic Tac Toe board outside with ropes or poles. For your “X’s and O’s”, use two different colored sets of balls, frisbees, etc. Or, get this soft, colorful version from Hey! Play! on Overstock.com.
Take water from a large bucket and transfer it across the lawn to player’s smaller personal bucket. Players must use a spoon, measuring cup or other small container to transfer the water. The first person to fill their personal bucket wins!
62. Parachute Popcorn
Have each person grab one or two handles and place light ball and objets on the parachute. Start waving the parachute to make the objects pop like popcorn. Don’t have a parachute lying around? We like this classic parachute on Overstock.combecause it has reinforced handles.
Play this Yahtzee-like in your backyard with giant red foam dice from Overstock.com. We googled around and there are lots of other fun big dice game, too! This could be the gift that keeps on giving all summer long.
Players pick someone to be “it.” They get five seconds to run away from whoever is “it.” The “it” person must run and tag everyone to win the game. When the “it” person tags a player, the player gets stuck in the mud and can’t move. To save players who are stuck, other players can crawl through their legs to free them.
65. Freeze Tag
One player is It. When a player is tagged, they must remain frozen in place. They can be unfrozen if they’re tagged by a non-It player.
66. Tunnel Tag
One player is It. When a player is tagged, they must remain frozen in place, with their legs wide apart, creating a tunnel. They can be unfrozen if a non-It player crawls under the leg tunnel.
67. Bandaid Tag
One player is It. When a player is tagged they put a hand (as a “band-aid”) over the spot where It touched them. When they are tagged a second time, they places the other hand on the new spot. When they are tagged a third time, they becomes It.
More Backyard Activities
68. Backyard Camping
Have a campout in your own backyard. Roast marshmallows, read stories, sing songs, watch the stars, and cuddle up in your sleeping bag for an unforgettable night. Need a tent or camping supplies? Try this simple 9×7 Dome Tent from Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
Get familiar with the stars this summer. Just grab a blanket, lie down, and look up! Level up your stargazing with a beginner’s telescope like this SmartScope from Overstock.com. It’s great for beginners and can actually hook up to your smartphone.
Grab small toys from around the house, and place them in water in a freeze-safe container. Then place it in the freezer until frozen. Pop it out and let your kids chip away at the ice to find the toys. You may need to let it melt awhile before they can safely and effectively chip away at the ice block.
71. Geometric Chalk Mural
Place masking tape on the ground, fence, or any surface you are working on your chalk mural. Create geomatric shapes similar to a stained glass window. Color in the shapes. When you lift the tape up, you’ll have a beautiful geometric mural.
72. Nature Scavenger Hunt
Give your kids a simple list of things you’d like them to find like a sparkly rock, long stick, pink flower, etc. Then send them on their way with the checklist and a bag. There are lots of inspiring versions of nature scavenger hunts online that will keep your kids busy for hours.
73. Water Blob
Get a clear plastic tarp and fold it in half. Duct tape the three open sides so that they are completely shut. Leave a small opening to fill up the blob with water. Once it’s filled, close it up with duct tape. Everyone will love sliding, jumping, and laying on your new water blob.Level it up by adding glitter or confetti to the water.
Remember when you were a child, how mesmerizing clouds could be? You could stare at them for a long time, finding new shapes and animals, watching them form and dissipate. On a mild day, lie down with your kids with a good view of the clouds. Make up a story about them!
76. Fence Funnel
On an outdoor fence or wall, use paper towel or toilet paper cardboard rolls to create an elaborate funnel. Send a marble or small ball through the funnel, and see if you can get it to land in a cup.
77. Outdoor Movie
Snuggle up on an outdoor blanket and watch a movie outside! Shop projectors and screens on Overstock.com.
78. Leaf Rubbings
Collect the most beautiful and interesting leaves your can find. Later, put them in between two pieces of paper and use a crayon or colored pencil to lightly color over it. The leaf’s imprint will begin to show! Create patterns, frame them, make a Summer Leaf booklet, send them to friends as greeting cards, or design a leafy scene in a corner of your house that needs some love.
You need five people to play this game, so the whole family should join in! Choose one player to be “it” and assign everyone numbers. Then have the person who is “it” stand in the middle of a circle, throw up a ball, and call out on of the number. The person with that number has to catch the ball and yell “Spud!” Everyone has to freeze when they yell “Spud!” Then the person can take three big steps towards any player and try to hit them with the ball. If they miss, or the player catches the ball, the thrower gets an S. If they hit them, the person who got hit gets an “S” and they are now “it”. If someone shouts a number that nobody has, know that this is called a “ghost number”.If a ghost number is called, everyone must rush up to the ball and touch it. The last player to do so gets a letter. For each letter a player gets, spell out S-P-U-D. If you spell out S-P-U-D you lose. The last player standing is the winner.
80. Give Your Toys A Bath
Gather up your child’s favorite toys (or any household items that need a scrub), and fill a bucket with soapy water. Show them how to clean and dry the toys. You could also do this with your outdoor balls and toys that have been gathering dirt all winter.
81. Mud Paint
Grab some containers you don’t care much about, some plain paper, and a handful of old paintbrushes. Outside, scoop a healthy amount of dirt into each container, and then add a small amount of water and good amount of food coloring. If you don’t have food coloring, this will be just as fun with plain old mud. Some recipes call for dish soap to help prevent stains in clothes, but it’s also optional. You’re ready to mud paint!
82. What Do You Hear?
Choose a cozy looking spot underneath a tree and sit very still. When your child joins you, explain you’re trying to stay as still as a tree for as long as you can. You might go through a few rounds of this, trying to go for a little longer each time. The goal is to awaken your senses to the sounds and sights in nature. Afterwards, talk about what you saw and heart. Start drawing a picture or writing a list of what you observed. (On a piece of paper, or in the dirt!) Invite your child to do the same. Send your picture or list to a loved one. Challenge them to do the same and send it back to you!
83. Adopt A Tree
Head out to the backyard or for a walk (keeping a safe distance from others) and find your lucky tree. It can even be a bush or a an old stump! Once you decide on a tree, get better acquainted with it together using your sight, touch, hearing, and smell to describe the tree. Is it alive? How can you tell? Can you tell what kind of tree it is? How could you find out? Do you see any opening buds, insects, holes where animals live, or birds preparing nests? If you have a tape measurer, measure the circumference of the trunk. Check in on your Family Tree every so often to see how it’s doing. Take pictures of it every visit to see how it’s changed. Draw its portrait and hang it on your refrigerator. Write a poem about it. Start a log book. Give it a name and talk about it lovingly. It’s a family member, after all!
84. Bug Hunt
Grab a glass mason jar, and place some gras and sticks inside. Next, find a bug and gently guide it into the mason jar. Watch it for awhile, then release it back into the wild, and repeat!
85. Outdoor Yoga
Look up some basic yoga poses and head to the backyard for an outdoor yoga class. For example, tell your kids that you’re going to turn into a tree, tall and steady. Show them the Tree Pose, bringing one foot to the inner thigh, and palms together at your chest or above your head. It takes balance!
86. Water Painting
Fill a bucket with water, and set out some paintbrushes of different sizes. Let your kids paint to their heart’s desire. They can paint the fence, the driveway, the exterior of your house, the bathtub, even the walls in your house if you’ll let them. Can they paint a square, circle, and triangle? Write their name? Write how old they are? Your phone number? A pattern of some kind?
Fill up a bucket of water and paint anything!
87. Yard Work
We’re sure you have loads of things you’d like to get done out in the yard. Invite your child into your world to work alongside you. Sure, it will slow you down a bit, but it’s one of the best ways for them to learn. You’re sure to find worms and bugs that will mesmerize them, and they’ll be naturally curious about what you’re doing and why. And, if they lose interest and scamper off to play, just keep right on going!
88. Start A Garden Journal
If one of your older children seems enamored with the garden, create a simple garden journal for them (it could be just a notebook or you can find one online). Ask them to write down their observations every so often as the garden changes.
89. Nature Cutting Tray
Gather some outdoor nature items from around your yard and place them in a bucket or on a tray. Have your kids practice their cutting skills!
90. Dirt Writing
Find the perfect writing stick. One that’s sturdy with a fairly pointy tip, and just the right length. Find some dirt to write in! Write the alphabet. Write your name. Write a sweet message to a loved one. Just write!
91. Wash The Car
Is there a child around who doesn’t love to help with this job? Throw on your favorite jams, and get your vehicle sparkly clean with the help of your child. Clear out the junk, wipe down the interior, vacuum it out, and scrub down the exterior. You’re sure to find some long-lost toys!
92. Arrange A Bouquet Of Flowers
Does your kitchen table need a pick-me-up? Gather some dandelions, pretty twigs, or other flowers and greenery from outside. Set them out on a tray with some jars and a pitcher of water. Have them pour the water into the jar, snip the flowers the correct length, and arrange them into a lovely little bouquet. It’s a Montessori favorite!
93. Build A Bird’s Nest
Ask your child for their help building a nest for your neighborhood bird. What do they think would make a good base for it? What would make the bird comfortable living there? What do you need to include so it doesn’t fall apart? (Something besides glue or tape!) Set it out with some seeds or bird snacks and see if anyone visits! Building a habitat helps build critical thinking and analytics skills, as well as empathy for other living creatures.
94. Water Pouring Station
Set out a large tupperware or bin. Place a variety of pitchers, cups, and containers inside of it. Fill the pitchers with water. (Add food coloring if you’ve got it! Careful to water it down enough so it doesn’t stain anything.) Your kids will love practicing their water pouring skills.
95. Sink or Float
Fill a giant tupperware with water and grab a few items from around the house. Ask your kids if they think the item will sink or float, and then give it a try. Next, ask them to go collect other items to test out. Have them guess the results before they test the item. Older children can write down the name of each item, and write Sink or Float next to it to indicate their guess.Afterwards, put all the items that sunk into one pile, and all the items that floated into another pile. Which pile has more items? How are the items in each pile similar to each other?
96. Lego Boats
Fill up a bucket of water. Have your child build a boat out of legos or any other material they’d like to try. Can they build a boat that floats?
97. Shadow Tracing
Choose a toy of object that you’d like to trace. Position it in a way that casts a shadow on the paper. Trace the shadow’s outline, then color it in.
98. Paint Rocks
Rocks are perfect for painting! For a fun letter activity, paint one letter on each rock, and practice spelling out different words and messages. And, for a twist, heat your rocks up in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Paint the hot rocks with crayons. The crayons will melt into a paint-like texture immediately upon touching the rock. Careful not to burn yourself!
99. Reflex Soccer Game
Practice your saving, shooting, and other soccer skills with the Reflex Soccer Outdoor Game on Overstock.com. It has a recoil action, adjustable rope length, and a vinyl soccer ball with inflation pump. You fill the base with either sand or water so it stays put!
100. Treasure Hunt
Hide a small toy or treat somewhere in the yard, and ask your child to help you create a treasure map so they can find where it is. Set out some cold coffee and a piece of paper and have them paint the paper with coffee to create an old, antique effect. Then, draw the route to the buried treasure on the map. Can they find it on their own? If they’re into it,have them create their own treasure map.
POP! Bubbles make everything more fun. Turn your backyard into a magical land of bubbles with this lightweight bubble machine from Farm & Fleet. It even glows in the dark!
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